I was wondering:
How do airlines take the leap of faith at this point to order the 350 when it's specifications have yet to be defined? How can they confidently order ANY A/C, for that matter (A or B), at such a preliminary stage of development?
I have heard in this forum (although I cannot provide a link) that there are engineering skeptics who question whether the technology exists or will exist that can support the performance and economic predictions Airbus is making for the bird; such as being as or more efficient than the 787. (For example, It will not have full barrel composite technology or bleedless engines, from what I understand.)
Also there is risk, I would imagine, in ordering the 350 and thereby not taking any options for 787 delivery slots. If the 350 turns out to be not what is promised because it's not technically possible, or if the design has morphed into something quite different during development, then 350 launch customers have by that time missed the 787 boat for some time to come.
Is this part of the nature of being a launch customer; you assume additional risk and that's why you get the launch customer discounts?
There must be considerable risk assumed by an airline choosing to commit to an A/C that is not yet defined, but for a substantial discount, vs paying more (non-launch customer prices) for an aircraft which has had it's design frozen and is very clearly defined, albeit not yet proven.
This is not an Airbus dig. I am quite willing to be educated in this regard. What am I missing? Thanks in advance.